COCK To 19 December.

London.

COCK
by Mike Bartlett.

Royal Court Theatre (Jerwood Theatre Upstairs) Sloane Square SW1W 8AS To 19 December 2009.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu,, Sat 4pm. All performances sold out.
Post-show talk 3 Dec.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7565 5000.
www.royalcourttheatre.co.uk
Review: Carole Woddis 21 November.

Circularity with momentum.
Small is still beautiful. The subject of Mike Bartlett’s new play is ostensibly bisexuality. But James Macdonald’s stylised, circular production translates it into something even more fascinating: a metaphor for the emotional and philosophical state of `not knowingness’ or being incapable of coming down on one side or the other. Our society places great emphasis on black and white. The more difficult and often painful grey area, be it political, economic or sexual, is deeply disparaged.

As Bartlett’s central character says, sleeping with someone shouldn’t be about sexual categories but rather who the person is, what kind of person they are.

Mind you, Cock gives a prime example of why bisexuality and indecisiveness might be so unpopular: they wreak such terrible havoc on all around, though still nothing like as painful as for the poor soul in the middle of it.

Ben Whishaw’s John is a nice fellow. A bit watery and rather masochistically on the receiving end of Andrew Scott’s hyper `M’. Not unlike his debut play at the Royal Court, My Child, Bartlett then zooms in on the dynamic between these two.

Performed in the round, Miriam Buether’s small wooden rotunda, on which we spectators sit as if gazing down into a small bear-pit, echoes the play’s increasingly concentric discussions and inter-personal dynamic.

Round and round go first John and `M’, then John and `W’, Katherine Parkinson’s young female work colleague, whom John discovers he can have feelings for after spending all his life reserving them for men only.

Every detour on John’s part hits the mark as he endeavours to follow inclinations on both sides of his character whilst being unable to establish which, for him, might be the definitive one. When `W’ is invited to dinner at `M’s plus `M’s father, the play achieves a kind of cathartic combination of farce and tragedy.

Exquisitely acted by Whishaw – all melting confusion and disastrous honesty – Scott, Parkinson and Paul Jesson’s avuncular Dad, Bartlett’s ideological position is possibly suspect. For all that, it’s hugely entertaining as well as truthful about some of the consequences of today’s liberal sexual freedoms.

John: Ben Whishaw.
M: Andrew Scott.
W: Katherine Parkinson.
F: Paul Jesson.

Director: James Macdonald.
Designer: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: Peter Mumford.
Sound: David McSeveney.
Assistant director: Natasha Nixon.

2009-11-24 01:35:04

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection